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Why It's Important To Get Dressed In The Morning.

If it wasn't for my contraceptive pill I wouldn't know what day it is. In fact, I still shout downstairs to double-check that I haven't missed any. Today is Thursday I say to myself. It's remarkable how reliant we are on routine. We've been told since birth when to wake up, when to eat, where to go. And for the first time in my life, I have no reason to go anywhere, or do anything. I am completely at my own mercy. 

That being said, there are plenty of people who spend the majority of their time at home. It's not uncommon for mothers to stay with their children until they go to school and a lot of small businesses are being run from someone's kitchen. But for those new to the concept, it's been somewhat of a struggle.

As the Government announced Lockdown, I ordered a selection of cute and colourful t-shirts. I thought that the classic tee and jeans combo would be fun, I was optimistic. Four days later I was in pyjamas. I fell into the spiral of what's the point? Trips to the supermarket are at a minimum, I ran out of paint and my daily run quickly slipped into a when I can be bothered run.

It's easy to find yourself dwindling. My job is me, being on my feet for nine and a half hours and continuously speaking to people, most likely in a dress and heels, solving problems and being my sing-songy self. But naturally, I'm a lazy person, I can admit that. I give up too easily, and I'm really good at lying to myself. Without that structure, I felt myself slipping. But for my own mental sanity, I have made the commitment to get dressed in the morning.

It doesn't sound like a lot, but it's a simple step towards optimism of whatever the day has in store for you.

Getting dressed changes your mindset, the shift from one to another switches your mind on. You're ready and prepared for whatever the day throws at you. Studies show that we are more productive in the mornings because of this get up and go mentality. And choosing what to wear will provide you with your first set of options for the day. If it's sunny outside why not seize the opportunity and go for a walk? Any home DIY jobs on the go? Grab those old jeans. Are you feeling a bit down in the dumps? Pick something in your favourite colour, It'll lift your spirits! 

Even if our day doesn't have the structure we're used to, it's up to us to try and maintain as much as we can. Routines help us to navigate the day, as you do the same thing over and over again it creates the structure that our bodies get used to. They drastically reduce the amount of psychological friction between us and our goals. Ever stayed up all night and felt out of sorts the next day? It's a similar kind of interruption.

Faced with these sudden changes in lifestyle it's easy to spend our days migrating from the bed to the sofa. Engulfed in video games or scrolling through social media, relying on a diet of hobnobs and cups of tea. The room darkens, time passes and the next thing you know you're questioning where your day's gone. Don't get me wrong, sometimes we need downtime, it's a chance to reset. But eventually we've to pick ourselves up, and carry on.

I'm not going to commit to yoga videos in the morning, running a 5k before dinner, putting on makeup or even redecorating the house. Because falling short of self-made commitments is the last thing I want to feel bad about right now. But at least I know that if I want to do any of these things, I'm ready. 

Who knows what you'll be inspired to do. I started writing again and I'm doing online tutorials with the adobe suits to refresh my skills. On the first day of the getting dressed commitment, I reorganised my dressing room and now have two bags full of things to donate to goodwill, once charities reopen their stores.

It starts with one small thing. We just have to stay optimistic. 

Have you been faced with a mental wall since the lockdown? How are you keeping yourself motivated? Let me know!

Gem x

Online Shopping, Where Do We Stand?

It's been almost 3 years since my last post, but recently I've been thinking about my little space on the internet and how much I've missed sharing my thoughts. A lot has changed, I'm still in Manchester, still spending an hour in the morning debating which lipstick choose, still wondering why I can't nail a DIY blow-dry. But the world is changing and I think we should be talking about it.

I like to think I'm not the only one waking up to an inbox packed full of promotional emails. I lie to myself, saying 'I'll only take a quick peek'. The next thing you know, 2 hours have passed and I've got a basket full of things I don't need, eagerly entering the code HOMEPARTY20.

Should we feel guilty?

As a 'shop girl' who's income fully relies on consumerism, I know that these retailers will only be able to survive if we continue to spend. We've got to keep lusting over slingback heels and coveting plush leather clutch bags. Or it's going to be make-or-break for some of these businesses.

The Centre for Retail Research has forecasted that a whopping 20,622 stores will permanently close, which would be a rise of 28% compared with 2019. And job losses, 235,704. That's 92k more than last year. After the UK lockdown, unfortunately, some stores will never reopen.

But with hundreds of thousands of us either working from home or furloughed, businesses are banking on us using online shopping as our new go-to.

This is what happened to me the other day, I got one of these discount code emails and my mind did this. The store will be closed, it's a listed building, I hope they're paying their staff, I'll get a few bits, I'll be kicking myself once the discount has ended, just get them now, they might need my sale. Should I feel this sense of responsibility to help to keep my favorite stores open?

Where do we draw the line?

I am so very fortunate to be at home, safe. But some are still expected to go to work. The warehouse workers, the delivery drivers, the postmen. I hadn't taken them into consideration until Net-a-Porter made the announcement that it will be closing it's distribution centers worldwide, "for the health and safety among the community".

And here in the UK, employees at Matalan distribution centers have been offered the option to be placed on furlough after some had complained that they were "being forced to continue to work in cramped, overcrowded conditions". Matalan later released a statement saying that their sites were deemed safe to work by environmental health.

I struggle with how to respond. Do I continue to shop as I normally would, to protect delivery staff? As and when I needed something? Or do I support those businesses who clearly need a helping hand? Shop ahead for birthdays and take advantage of discounts because I'll probably want a new necklace soon anyway?

Personally, I think it's a bit of both. We should be educating ourselves on the treatment of staff. Do these businesses deserve our hard earnt cash? After Philip Green sent arcadia staff home without pay, I vowed not to give him a single penny until the stores reopen and staff are being paid again. I've also opted to support smaller brands, buying directly instead of through giants like ASOS who no doubt take a large percentage of every sale.

Who knows how we're going to come out on the other side? I only hope that those working have been treated fairly, that people continue to shop as they normally would (where possible) and of course, that I still have a job to go back to.

What do you think? Have you noticed a change in your shopping habits? Or been taking advantage of the heavy discounting that we're seeing? Let me know!

Gem x

Becoming A Morning Person

They say when you have a gift you should share it with the world: I am the ultimate morning person. I have been known to travel at 5AM with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. With the clocks going back and the mornings getting lighter I want to share a few of my tips to help you seize the day and be happy about it!

Turn your devices off before bed

I have a technology cut off time, at 10pm. Laying in bed on your phone or laptop is one of the worst things you can do when it comes to sleep. It's been a known fact for years but as research continues scientists have discovered just how dangerous the knock-on effects can be. 

Scientific American published a Q&A article where they discussed 'blue light' with Thomas Jefferson University neuroscientist George Brainard, who was among the first researchers to investigate how different wavelengths of light affect the release of melatonin, and Harvard University neuroscientist Anne-Marie Chang, who recently discovered that the effects of light-emitting devices on circadian systems extend beyond evening and into the following morning. 
The light from our devices is “short-wavelength-enriched,” meaning it has a higher concentration of blue light than natural light—and blue light affects levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin more than any other wavelength."

Be Realistic

Not everyone can just decide to be a morning person. I gradually set my alarm earlier, so that my body clock adjusted. And I found that being realistic, helped me to stick to my goals. And over time this became second nature. 

Another tip, try to avoid pressing snooze. When you're awake, you should be up, brushing your teeth and popping the kettle on. It's the first hurdle to master.

Fuel Your Body

I was not a breakfast person. It used to take me at least a few hours to be able to eat anything but like setting my alarm I gradually introduced small portions. I started with grab and go fruit and have now made my way to toast or porridge. It hasn't been the easiest change but I've found that it makes me more productive and helps me to focus for the rest of the day. 

I am not a gym person but I've found that going for a simple walk in the evening really helps to clear my mind before sleeping. I find it easier to wake up in the morning, I feel level headed and ready to tackle the day. Even taking an hour out of my Sunday to stroll around Manchester really helps me to see the week ahead in a positive way and this directly affects my mood in the mornings.

I downloaded an app called MapMyWalk and It's so helpful. The app tracks your location and gives you a profile of data on the speed of each mile and calories burnt. You can either plan your own route or have one planned for you. And If walking isn't your thing you can select a variety of activities to suit your own interests, everything from cycling to crunches.

I hope this will in some way help you to become more of a morning person. It takes time, but with a little effort, you will see all the difference. Take it slow, find out what works for you and enjoy it!

Are you a morning person? How do you settle down for a good night's sleep?

Gem. x

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

In this digital age, letter writing has slowly slipped away from us. I remember being a child and writing individual thank you letters with every gift. Thinking back I'm not entirely sure when that stopped. Maybe it was with age, or maybe it was the rise of mobile phones and social networks. Gradually over time, the letters stopped coming, postcards were no longer part of a typical family holiday and sadly the handwritten conversation became a thing of the past.

And then for my 24th birthday, my mum sent me a writing pad with matching envelopes and a pack of first class stamps. Living on the opposite side of the country has its downfalls and the 8-hour journey to my small southern hometown doesn't happen as often anymore. Enclosed the card read "I remember you used to love to write, so I'm sending you this writing set. I love the old fashioned way of keeping in touch, I hope you do too." Reading this it was almost as if I could hear her voice, I pictured her writing, stood in the kitchen. And instantly I knew that the art handwriting letters and sending them off in the hands of others was something that I needed to incorporate back into my life.

After my spurred interest, I started to do some reading online. I saw people's replies from penpals, great big bundles of old letters and photos left by family members. And then I stumbled upon an article by Catherine Field in The New York Times, called The Fading Art of Letter Writing. Beautifully written, Catherine describes the handwritten connection between herself and her mother-in-law.
A good handwritten letter is a creative act, and not just because it is a visual and tactile pleasure. It is a deliberate act of exposure, a form of vulnerability, because handwriting opens a window on the soul in a way that cyber communication can never do. You savor their arrival and later take care to place them in a box for safe keeping."
This paragraph explains in its entirety how I feel about letter writing. The personal connection, the time spent handwriting your feelings, opening your mind and soul onto a piece of unsuspecting paper.

Those words frozen in time can mean everything to someone, love letters, the last letters and the ones that remind us of the ones we cherish.

With all of this in mind, I've put together five reasons to start letter writing. If I can inspire one person, inspire one letter then this post has served its purpose.

1. Handwriting takes time. I am not ashamed to admit that I always draft cards and notes. And I am always truly thankful for the time spent. It brings a smile to my face and truly makes my day.

2. Handwriting is personal. It says a lot about your personality, exposes your vulnerabilities and forms a connection with those who read it. 

3. Letters last a lifetime. I have a box of special cards and notes that I couldn't bare to part with. And they will be here long after I am. 

4. Letters are exciting! Nowadays the postman comes bearing bills and spam, think of the excitement a handwritten envelope will bring. Much more than a notification.

5. And finally, think of all the beautiful stationery! I recommend starting with a nice set and then move onto post cards, return envelopes and stickers, the possibilities are endless.

I have personally been using the writing set pictured here. The Art File's Dachshund Letter Set - £5.95. The set includes ten embossed letterheads, ten continuation sheets and ten detailed envelopes.

To those of you that take inspiration from this, please let me know if you write anything either in the comments below or on twitter. It would love to hear about it!

What do you think about writing letters or notes? Is snail mail obsolete to us millennials?

Gem. x

Here are a few writing sets to get you started.


Golden Sugar Blush Palette | Makeup Revolution

You know my love for multi-use products. If my daily routine can be reduced by a couple of minutes I am one happy lady! So as soon as I saw the Makeup Revolution Golden Sugar Blush Palette, I knew I had to have it. With 8 delightful pans of merged blush, baked bronzers, a classic bronzer and baked highlighters this is a real beauty. 

First off let's talk about quality because as a brand Makeup Revolution knocks it out of the park every time. Each shade is highly pigmented with a great depth of colour. Soft and light, they blend into the skin beautifully with both matte and dewy bases.

As a whole these wear pretty well on my skin, they don't go patchy or sink into my pores. My skin does tend to get a bit oily throughout the day, so I do have to reapply them towards the evening if I plan on going out after work. But that doesn't impact my opinion of them at all.

The packaging is another win. Sleek and functional, with a glossy black finish, this has a large mirror, feels very sturdy in your hand and has a good secure closure. It's super thin which makes it perfect for travelling. And overall it looks a lot more expensive than it actually is.

Unfortunately, the shades themselves aren't named or numbered in any way, so I've split the swatches into two, one photo for each side of the palette.

On the left, you will see the lighter shades. The first is a super shimmery pink blush, more of a highlighter/blush combo. My go-to on lazy mornings when I need to perk myself up.

Then we have a pale pink highlighter, alone it sits beautifully along the tops of the cheekbones. But when put on top of a matte pink blush, this really makes your cheeks pop!

Next is a warm, more natural highlighter. Great for every day.

And finally a shimmery pearl with gold undertones, this is perfect as an inner corner highlight and equally beautifully along the brow bone.

And on the right, you will see the darker shades. The first is a light brown matte bronzer, it's warm with a very faint shimmer which pairs beautifully with my pale skin tone.

Then we have a shimmery warm gold shade. Light enough to use as a highlight, unfortunately, It's very yellow against my skin but this is great to use as an eyeshadow.

Next is a warm, rich copper. Very bold to use as a blusher, you must use a light hand. But like the shade prior, it's very wearable as an eyeshadow.

And finally, a cool toned, pale pink shimmery blush. My favourite and most used by far!

In terms of a full face, one evening I used 5 different shades and managed to get ready in under 15 minutes. It went a little something like this, matte bronzer, cool toned pink blush with natural warm highlight, copper all over the lid with the golden/pearl on the brow bone and inner corners.

Piece of cake!

Speaking of cake, the icing has to be its cruelty-free and vegan-friendly status! After asking my usual list of questions this is the reply I received from the owners of Makeup Revolution, TAM Beauty.
Thank you for contacting us at TAM Beauty. We can confirm that we do not test our products nor ingredients on animals and neither do any third parties (and we are not owned by a parent company). 
After a couple more questions I found that they do not and will not be selling their products in China and that a lot of their products are actually vegan. But as always, read the ingredients before purchasing.

So after all that, where can you purchase this blushing wonder?

The Makeup Revolution Blush Palette Golden Sugar - £6.00 is available in most Superdrug stores, Superdrug.com and TAMBeauty.com. For those of you across the pond, Makeup Revolution is also available at Ulta.com.

Phew, so that was a long one. I just wanted to finish things off by saying, WOW It's been a long ol' while since I've written anything. What do you guys think of the new look? Creatively I have a bit more direction, hence all this new shebang. I felt like for a long time I was uninspired and lost, I didn't feel like I had a voice. But now I have things that I want to share and I hope that you all enjoy it.

Gem. x

World Hello Day

Hello! Today is a wonderful day. In case you didn't know, it happens to be World Hello Day. A whole day dedicated to demonstrating the importance of personal communication for preserving peace. And you can take part, just by greeting ten people.

There are 180 countries that take part and have done so for the past 44 years. It's an opportunity to express our concern for world peace. This year we have seen some of the most shocking events of the 21st century, and now, more than ever we need to come together to showcase unity and peace.

This day is intended to send a message to world leaders, encouraging them to use communication rather than force to settle their conflicts. As a global event, World Hello Day joins local participation in a global expression of peace.

So on this day I encourage you to greet as many people as you can. Go the extra mile and spread positivity to those around you. Smile, hold the door and be the good you want to see in the world.

Gem. x

Organic Virgin Coconut Oil | Dr. Organic

I am a great lover of natural skincare, looking for pure and nourishing ingredients. And for the last two months, I've been testing the Dr. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil range. Available exclusively at Holland & Barret, this is a line your skin will thank you for. We've all seen the recent explosion of coconut oil based products. From milk and water to skincare and makeup, we have gone coo-coo for coconuts.  And for a good reason.

Known for its nourishing and hydrating properties, Virgin Coconut Oil awakens dry and tired skin leaving it looking radiant and healthy. After just a few weeks my skin has completely transformed, and I am super impressed.

The weather has turned and whilst I can wrap up in layers to keep myself warm, I always find that my skin takes a hit. My hairline became dry, my skin lacked that glow and my lips were borderline cracked. At the beginning that is. After a few days of using the Dr. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil skin care range, my skin was back and softer than ever.

I was lucky enough to try five very different products, but with ten in the range, you will be able to smother yourself in coconuts from head to toe. So without further ado, here is what I thought.

Dr. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Day Cream* -  With a super lightweight consistency this packs a lot of punch. It's absorbed quickly leaving my skin plump and smooth. Packed with plant extracts and organic oils this is a wonder to use every morning.

Dr. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Hydrating Radiance Elixir* -  Perfect to use as part of my evening routine, this elixir is super hydrating. I use one pump after cleansing and awake in the morning with bright, beautifully smooth skin.

Dr. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Eye Perfect* - Light and silky, patted under the eyes in the morning this brightens and tightens my skin. The pointed applicator means it's especially easy to swipe on even in the early hours. And it sinks into the skin sitting beautifully under makeup.

Dr. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Lip Balm* - First of all, best lip balm ever. Hands down. This melts onto the lips leaving a silky finish, I can top this up every hour or so for beautifully soft lips. And relax knowing that they're protected against UVA and UVB rays with SPF15.

Dr. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Body Soufflé* - With a light fragrance this is perfect for daily use. I keep mine by the shower and make sure to treat myself every morning. Like the rest of the range, this is enriched with plant extracts and botanical ingredients designed to nourish your skin, leaving it soft and smooth.

Every product in this range is phenomenal, seriously. It's not often that I rebuy skincare products, I always like to try new things but I've made several trips to Holland and Barrett already. With multiple Lip Balms stashed away and a Body Souffle permanently in my bathroom, I know that I'm onto some winners.

The next time I pop in I'll be picking up a few more bits. The Hand & Nail Cream and the Moisture Melt Body Oil look fantastic. I can't wait!

What winter adjustments have you made to your skincare routine? Are you a fan of coconut?

Gem. x

* PR Sample